The Maya Princess — An Update

Posted on Sunday, September 30th, 2012

1,900 words have been drafted so far...

The Maya Princess — Writing Update:

The writing project has now finished its second week. A cast of characters has been created with ‘working names’ for the main players. A relationship chart was created showing how everyone is connected. And a ‘baseball card’ summary was created for each of the characters.

With the casting call completed my next task was to begin creating a plot outline. I completed approximately the first quarter of the book’s outline. The story will open with a murder; then follow with the process of getting the main character to accept the task of searching for a missing person; then the main character’s first attempt to find the missing person results in a disaster; and finally the main character gets motivated to search properly. That’s it so far…

My missing-person’s mystery formula is heavily influenced by the mystery writer, Harlan Coben. His books are incredibly well written and follow a definite pattern. I am also inspired by James Frey, a solid writer who has laid out an important set of ‘nuts and bolts’ in how to assemble a mystery story. Another writer I like is John Sanford. He likes to insert separate chapters throughout the book, as seen through the eyes of the villain. Sanford is able to heighten the tension because the reader knows more than the main character. To me, that is a very effective technique. And finally, I am greatly affected by the marvelous way Jodi Picoult puts words together. She is a master at turning a phrase. I especially love her metaphors. The last book of hers I read, Lone Wolf, had a most interesting way of creating a character; one who never actually spoke, or was a part of the story—she included short chapters throughout the book, seen through this character’s eyes as he explained who he was, what he was doing, and what he had learned about wolves. This design may work well in The Maya Princess because of the Maya culture content I want share as the story progresses.

Since The Maya Princess is going to take place among several of the main Maya archaeological sites and since it also will explain various aspects of the Maya culture I need to take a self-taught course in the Maya world. Much of my past two weeks’ writing time was spent studying Maya archaeology sites. I introduced myself to the Maya world with Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube’s work, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens. Though this tome is a ponderous list of ruler after ruler, it does give one a sense of the constant warfare between the cities, as well as introduce Maya hieroglyphics, the Long Count, and the culture’s architectural achievements.

Finally, I began writing the villain’s story. I am doing this is short chapters. I have written 1,900 words of a first draft. I will be using Maya hieroglyphics and numbering for the chapter headings. I’ve enjoyed trying to learn Mayan words!

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